A few years from now, today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant will certainly be one of the more difficult-to-remember answers to the trivia question; “Can you name someone who played third base for the Yankees during the 2013 regular season?” Brent Lillibridge’s first day in pinstripes was a sad one in Yankee Universe. He was called up from Scranton/Wilkes Barre to take the place of Derek Jeter in July, after the Yankee Captain’s first attempt to play in 2013 ended with a strained quad and a return trip to the DL.
Unfortunately for Lillibridge, he hit just .171 during his 11-game sojourn at the Yankees’ hot-corner position and quickly lost the job. Ironically, Lillibridge was one of the White Sox players traded to Boston in 2012 for Kevin Youklis, who was supposed to be the Yankees’ starting third baseman in 2013 until A-Rod returned from his offseason hip surgery.
Don’t feel too sorry for this native of Everett, Washington who turns 30 years old today. Despite the fact that the Yankees were the sixth team he’s played for during his six seasons in the big leagues and despite the fact that as of today his lifetime average in the Majors is just .205, the guy has earned over $2 million in salary during that time. That’s about double what the Yankees paid Hall-of-Famer, Mickey Mantle for his eighteen years of service in pinstripes.
|CHW (4 yrs)||256||499||442||76||96||13||3||15||50||28||38||150||.217||.291||.362||.653|
|ATL (1 yr)||29||85||80||9||16||6||1||1||8||2||3||23||.200||.238||.338||.576|
|BOS (1 yr)||10||16||16||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||.125||.125||.125||.250|
|CHC (1 yr)||9||24||24||0||1||0||0||0||2||0||0||9||.042||.042||.042||.083|
|CLE (1 yr)||43||123||111||15||24||5||0||3||8||6||7||40||.216||.276||.342||.619|
|NYY (1 yr)||11||37||35||2||6||1||0||0||3||1||1||8||.171||.194||.200||.394|
After fourteen seasons as one of the upper tier starting pitchers in the Major Leagues, George “The Bull” Uhle had just about reached the end of the line as the 1933 season reached the halfway point. He was only 34 years old at the time but his right arm had already thrown 3,000 big league innings and the New York Giants had just released him. He had been a three-time twenty-game winner with the Indians during the 1920s, leading the league in victories twice and throwing a total of 25 shutouts. The Yankees were the defending 1932 World Champions but they would not be able to catch the upstart Senators who would eventually win the AL Pennant that year. New York picked up Uhle off waivers and Manager Joe McCarthy pitched him exclusively out of the bullpen at first before giving him a semi-regular spot in the starting rotation. Old George responded well by winning six of his seven decisions that year in pinstripes including four complete games. That effort earned him an invitation back the following year but he could not maintain that level of effectiveness. After a comeback try with the Indians failed in 1936, George Uhle retired for good with an even 200 career victories.
The less famous Brett brother is another former Yankee who celebrates his birthday on September 18. You’ll find Ken Brett’s PBB post here. This short-term Yankee third baseman also shares Uhle’s birthday.
|CLE (11 yrs)||147||119||.553||3.92||357||267||65||166||16||15||2200.1||2442||1137||959||58||709||763||1.432|
|DET (5 yrs)||44||41||.518||3.91||128||92||34||62||5||10||828.1||866||425||360||53||224||332||1.316|
|NYY (2 yrs)||8||5||.615||6.17||22||8||12||4||0||0||77.1||93||61||53||7||27||36||1.552|
|NYG (1 yr)||1||1||.500||7.90||6||1||3||0||0||0||13.2||16||12||12||1||6||4||1.610|
Ken Brett’s Major League pitching career was overshadowed by the hitting success of his younger brother, Hall-of-Famer, George. Ken was a great hitter too, perhaps the best hitting pitcher of his era. He averaged .300 twice in the big leagues, once for Boston, in 1970 and again as a Pirate, in 1974. But if he hadn’t suffered an arm injury as a Minor Leaguer, the elder Brett definitely had the pitches and confidence to become a top-flight starter at the Major League level.
He made his big league debut in 1967 with the Red Sox, ending up on Boston’s World Series roster when their ace reliever, Sparky Lyle was forced out by injury. The eighteen year old Brett pitched an inning and a third of scoreless relief against the Cardinals and seemed like he was destined for great things. Instead, he became a big league nomad, pitching for ten different franchises over a 14-year career that included a two-game, one-save lay-over in pinstripes during the early part of the 1976 season. He had come to the Yankees in a trade with the Pirates along with Willie Randolph and Dock Ellis in exchange for Doc Medich. I remember hoping at the time that perhaps Brett would pleasantly surprise Yankee fans and effectively take Medich’s spot in the rotation. Instead it was the flaky Ellis who surprised us all by stepping up and delivering a very good 1976 season as a Yankee starter. With one Dock replacing the other, New York had little need for Brett so he and Rich Coggins were traded to the White Sox for Carlos May in May of that 1976 season.
His best years on the mound were 1973 and 74 when he put up back-to-back 13-9 seasons, first with the Phillies and then the Pirates. He was named to the NL All Star team for that 1974 performance. Brett was born on September 18, 1948 in Brooklyn, NY. The family moved to California where Brett became a high school baseball star. He died from brain cancer, in 2003.
Also celebrating a birthday on September 18th is a pitcher from the 1920s who was a three-time 20-game winner for the Indians who pitched two seasons in pinstripes at the end of his career. Even though he won 200 games during his big league career and led the AL in victories twice, I had never heard of this guy until I researched him for last year’s Pinstripe Birthday post. See if you have. One of the 11 Yankees who played third base for the team during the 2013 season was also born on this date.
|BOS (4 yrs)||10||15||.400||4.58||79||24||20||1||0||3||239.2||219||134||122||30||136||237||1.481|
|KCR (2 yrs)||1||1||.500||2.96||30||0||17||0||0||3||45.2||43||16||15||2||19||11||1.358|
|PIT (2 yrs)||22||14||.611||3.32||50||43||4||14||4||0||309.0||302||128||114||19||95||143||1.285|
|CAL (2 yrs)||10||15||.400||4.54||52||31||7||6||1||1||242.0||257||133||122||27||80||84||1.393|
|CHW (2 yrs)||16||16||.500||3.81||40||39||1||18||1||1||283.1||272||129||120||15||91||130||1.281|
|MIN (1 yr)||0||0||4.97||9||0||1||0||0||0||12.2||16||7||7||1||6||3||1.737|
|PHI (1 yr)||13||9||.591||3.44||31||25||2||10||1||0||211.2||206||91||81||19||74||111||1.323|
|LAD (1 yr)||4||3||.571||3.45||30||0||14||0||0||2||47.0||52||20||18||1||12||13||1.362|
|NYY (1 yr)||0||0||0.00||2||0||1||0||0||1||2.1||2||0||0||0||0||1||0.857|
|MIL (1 yr)||7||12||.368||4.53||26||22||3||2||1||0||133.0||121||76||67||13||49||74||1.278|